Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats span the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. Each is an engineering marvel – some are works of art.Build An Asteroid Terrarium
At least thirty kilometers on its long axis.
Any type will do—solid rock, rock and ice, metallic,
even iceballs, although each presents different problems.
Attach a self-replicating excavator assembly
to one end of the asteroid,
and with it hollow out your asteroid
along its long axis.
Ejection of the excavated material will represent
your best chance to reposition your terrarium,
if you want it in a different orbit.
Store excess ejecta on the surface
for later use.
Beyond the forward end of the cylinder,
on the bow of your new terrarium,
attach a forward unit at the point
of the long axis.
Eventually your terrarium will be spinning at a
rotational rate calculated to create the effect
of gravity on the inner surface of the interior
cylinder (g equivalent).
Now set it spinning.Next
Biospheres need their vitamins right from the start, so be
sure to arrange for the importation of the mix that you want,
usually including molybdenum, selenium, and phosphorus.
These are often applied in "puff bombs"
set off along the axis of the cylindrical space.
Don't poison yourself when you do this!Next
After that, string the axis of the cylinder
with your terrarium's sunline.
The lit portion of the sunline usually starts the day
in the stern of the cylinder, after a suitable
period of darkness.
This is a lighting element, on which the lit portion
moves at whatever speed you choose.
Now you can aerate the interior to the gas mix and
pressure you desire, typically somewhere between 500
and 1100 millibars of pressure,
in something like the Terran mix of gases,
with perhaps a dash more oxygen,
though the fire risk quickly rises there.
You will either be recreating some Terran biome,
or else mixing up something new; hybrid biomes most
people call "Ascensions," after Ascension Island on
Earth, the site of the first such hybrid.
All the genomes for all the species of your particular
biome will be available for print on demand, except
for the bacteria.
Apply the appropriate inoculant, usually a muck or goo
made of a few tons of the bacterial suite that you want.
Luckily bacteria grow very fast in an empty ecological
niche, which is what you now have.
To make it even more welcoming, scrape the interior wall of
your cylinder, then crumble the rock of the scrapings finely,
to a consistency ranging from large gravel to sand.
Mixed with an edible aerogel, this then becomes
the matrix for your soil. Put all of the ice gathered in your
scraping aside, except for enough when melted to make
your crumbled rock matrix moist.
Then add your bacterial inoculant, and turn up the heat to
around 300 K. The matrix will rise like yeasted dough as it
becomes that most delicious and rare substance, soil.
When you've got a warm marsh going, either fresh
water or salt, you are already cooking good. Smells will
rise in your cylinder, also hydrological problems.
Fish, amphibian, animal, and bird populations
can be introduced at this point, and should be if
you want maximum biomass growth.
Ultimately you will need to make many temperature, landscape,
and species adjustments. Any possible landscape is achievable;
sometimes the results are simply stunning. The look of the land
will envelope you like a work of art—a goldsworthy inscribed
on the inside of a rock, like a geode or a Fabergé egg.
Obviously it is also possible to make interiors that are all
liquid. Some of these aquaria or oceanaria include island
archipelagoes; others are entirely water. Some aquaria
have no air space in their middles.
Each terrarium functions as an island park for the animals inside
it. Ascensions cause hybridization and ultimately new species.
The more traditional biomes conserve species that on Earth are
radically endangered or extinct in the wild.
Some terraria even look like zoos; more are purely
wilderness refugia; and most mix parkland and human
spaces in patterned habitat corridors. As such these spaces
are already crucial to humanity and the Earth. And there are
also the heavily agricultural terraria, farmworlds devoted to
producing what has become a very large percentage of the
food feeding the people of Earth.
We cook up our little bubble worlds for our own pleasure,
the way you would cook a meal, or build something, or grow
a garden—but it's also a new thing in history, and the heart
of the Accelerando. I can't recommend it too highly! The
initial investment is nontrivial, but there are still many
unclaimed asteroids out there.
“Intellectually engaged and intensely humane in a way SF rarely is, exuberantly speculative in a way only the best SF can be, this is the work of a writer at or approaching the top of his game.”
— Iain M. Banks
“2312 is a monumental tour-de-force that re-imagines the solar system in ways no one has envisioned before. Whether comparing the compositions of Beethoven to those of skylarks and warblers, or describing a life-threatening sunrise on Mercury, Robinson fills 2312 with joy and exuberance, danger and fear, and the steadily mounting suspense of a mystery that spans the planets.”
— Robert Crais
“A challenging, compelling masterpiece of science fiction.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)